Haircut Philosophy and Photography

I had my hair cut and dyed this past week at a salon in the local mall. It cost me $200, after tip. And I feel great, both in how I look and about what I paid. I have zero regrets about what I spent.

To understand why this is blog worthy or photography relevant, you need to know a few things about me first.

1) I get my hair cut once a year, or once every two years, at most.

2) I have only had my hair professionally dyed once before, about 7 years ago. Normally, I do it myself via Sally Beauty.

3) The hair cut I had about a year and a half ago cost me $40.

4) In between hair cuts… I just let it grow out.  My previous hair cut was a ‘Halle Berry” and in the course of that year and a half, went through several stages: “the David Bowie” and “the Kristoff” both being painful, though the most current look of “80’s party wig” wasn’t all that spectacular either.

5) My stylist was a ‘master’ stylist at this salon. They have 4 levels, and she’s 3rd. I’ve never used her before, but considering her level, I was confident she could do what I wanted.

So, knowing that I am typically a do-it-myself dyer and a ‘cheap’ hairdresser prefereer (well, not so cheap as to use Super Cuts… but then, I do want my hair to be one consistent length rather than butchered) for me to go into a professional salon and pay $200 on a cut and dye was a BIG DEAL.  Now, is $200 the super expensive hairdresser? Nope.  But I know I couldn’t do the Ted Gibson Beauty salon rates (he’s $1200 if you’re curious).  But I also knew I needed something more than a new beauty school grad.  Experience and training do matter. I know better than to try and cut my own hair, despite owning a few pairs of scissors!

Let’s now re-write this for photography, shall we?

1) I get professional photographs taken every year or every other year.

2) I’ve had big deal professional photos done only once before, for my wedding.

3) The last portrait session I had was at JC Pennys.

4) In between sessions,  I just use my entry level dslr and mock Pinterest set-up.

5) For this session, I wanted a professional to capture everything perfectly. She’d been trained in photography in general, and had additional training in family photography through workshops and online learning. Considering her experience and education, I was confident she could do what I wanted.

So knowing that I am typically a do-it-myself snapshot photographer and budget hairdresser preferrer (well, not so cheap as to use someone JSO that’s giving away 200+ out of focus and shot on auto images on CD with ‘the copyrights’) for me to go to a professional photographer and pay professional market rates for treasured family portraits is a BIG DEAL.   Because whoever the photography equivalent of Ted Gibson is in this analogy (Annie Leibovitz probably fits) is out of my price range too. But I know I need something more than someone who just bought their DSLR and shoots on P mode in ‘natural light.’  Experience and training do matter. I knew better than to try and photograph my own family, despite owning two DSLRs and multiple lenses!

BTW here’s a quote from Ted Gibson, that I think applies across both professions “You can shop at H&M, or you can shop at Louis Vuitton. They’re both great, but they are not at all the same.”   The writer of the article goes on to note that “even after raising his price to $1,200 from $950, he still has a two-month waiting list.”

Okay, now where am I going with this?

My point is that there are clients at many price points. And that the client who won’t spend more than Super Cuts on their hair will likely never upgrade to the mid-range salon prices except for special occasions and big milestones.  The person who drops $100+ on hair cuts every few months (and more on root touch ups) will never look twice at a Super Cuts for their hair.  And yes, occasionally there’s people like me who splurge on the important times, and then go back to mid range…. And the person who goes to Ted Gibson is a totally different market than either of those.

The same goes with photography.  There’s different clients for different markets. So you need to figure out which market you serve, and price yourself accordingly… and then be that value… and make sure that in doing so you are making the living wage you need.  And realize that sometimes your clients may go down or up a tier as their budget and priorities dictate.



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